Bill Walker is now Alaska’s 11th governor

It’s official. Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott were sworn in today before noon at Centennial Hall in Juneau to much fanfare. Songs were song. Dances were danced. Prayers prayed  and speeches made. I was told that Mallott’s speech would be somewhere between 10-15 minutes. I was told wrong. Between the two, Mallott is the more loquacious speech-giver. However,  after only a few minutes, where he spoke about uniting Alaska, he cut it short, “I’m going to stop here,” he said. “Many will be bewildered, because I usually don’t.”

Walker’s speech was heavy on bio material, about growing up poor in Valdez and about he and his sibling working at his father’s construction business when he was 10 years old. He welled up when he spoke about his parent’s efforts and advocacy for statehood. “Indelibly etched in my memory is the very day the eight stars on the Alaska flag became the 49th star on the United States flag,” he said.

He also welled up when he spoke about the the 1964 earthquake. “Valdez lost 34 people in the 1964 Earthquake; mostly children. Among them, my friends. I was 12 years old,” he said.

He also spoke about winning a janitorial contract at the post office when he was 12, until the federal inspector visited and said he was too young to have the contract.

“And that became my first run-in with the federal government,” he said, which got the biggest laugh of the day.

He thanked former Gov. Sean Parnell for helping him with the transition, but he also appeared to take a jab at him when he said that he would “work to restore some of the faith and trust that has been lost.”

But he closed on an optimistic note:

I know that hard work is not a partisan effort, but an Alaskan value.  There is no natural disaster, man-made catastrophe or fiscal crisis that can withstand the force of the mighty Alaskan spirit.  Like a family, we are diverse, we are passionate—especially when we disagree, but we are all united by a common thread.  We are rising as one. We are on that steep climb to our next peak.  It is with great honor that I lead you all on that journey.

Conspicuously absent in the crowd was outgoing Sen. Hollis French, who is in California. He did say he got a nice call from Mallott, inviting him to come.

After the ceremony, Walker and Mallott went off to sign papers, including delineating a line of succession.

Updated: The administration will be announcing more appointments at 2 pm. Until then, here’s some rumors: Word is that Department of Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell is no longer with the administration. I’m told that she was asked to stay until they could find a replacement, but opted not to. Deputy Commissioner Fred Parady has been asked to be acting. interim. Amy Erickson, who was the director of DMV, is now acting commissioner of administration. Carmen Gutierrez has been interviewed to be the commissioner of corrections.

Official:  (Get the full list here.) Former DNR Deputy Commissioner Marty Rutherford is again the deputy commissioner of DNR. She’ll be acting com until Mark Myers can take the job in January. Val Davidson is the commissioner of DHSS. Former Democratic legislator Sam Cotten will be acting commissioner of Fish and Game.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


6 thoughts on “Bill Walker is now Alaska’s 11th governor

  1. Really Walker?

    You had to take a jab at the outgoing Governor who has been more gracious to you than you deserve? Classless. Hopefully, people will remember that.

    Walker, news flash — you didn’t win by a landslide. This wasn’t a mandate for you or a referendum on Gov. Parnell. You couldn’t win any other way unless you joined up with the other opponent of the Governor and without hesitation abandoned your principles, your party and your faith just to win. It was a tight race. Don’t be a Begich. Have some grace and class.

  2. Dhomer

    According to French’s FB he is in fact in CA. Been on a road trip of sorts.

    My guess is his non inclusion in Juneau means another upcoming run, but for a city wide position?

  3. AH HA

    @Amanda, You have described Hollis French as ‘In California’ on a couple of occasions recently and given modern society’s decided preference for the use of euphemism and circumlocution rather than the plain truth coupled with the near complete silence and absence from public life on his part I am starting to wonder, is he actually in California? Or this this some sort of euphemism for undesirable?

  4. oscar

    Since Ms. Davidson has no administrative/managerial experience it will be interesting to see how she does running the state’s biggest department. Welcome back Sam and Marty!

Comments are closed.